While there's something to be said for the accessibility of simple, straightforward games, it's the notion that kids can't handle or appreciate more sophisticated games, or media in general, that causes mindless trash like Xiaolin Showdown to come to bear. It's based on the unremarkable children's cartoon of the same name, which would be indistinguishable from the numerous other post-Powerpuff Girls action comedy cartoons out there were it not for the way it also clumsily cops a broadly Asian theme that ranges from old kung-fu movies to Dragon Ball Z. Uninspired source material aside, Xiaolin Showdown is still a crummy excuse for a four-player, arena-based brawler that's weighed down by a poorly realized lock-on system, crushingly monotonous enemy designs, and crude visuals.
You'll play Xiaolin Showdown as one of the four monks-in-training from the show--the diminutive Omi, the brash Raimundo, the fiery Kimiko, and the gentle giant Clay. Despite their divergent appearances, there's little functional difference. The game supports up to four players, though if you're playing on your own you'll be joined by three computer-controlled characters. The additional fighters make the scene a bit livelier, but it's also a major source of tedium, due to a lousy lock-on system, which makes it all too easy to target friendly characters. The game indicates whom you're locked onto by placing a column of light above the character, but the light flash is too brief, and it's oddly difficult to disengage the lock once you're already homed in. You have two basic attack buttons that you can mash into multihit combos, and you can also leap around and pick up barrels and jugs to throw at enemies. But because the lock-on system doesn't work particularly well, the easiest way to best your opponents is to jump in the air and repeatedly perform the basic homing attack. Your fighting style doesn't evolve much over the course of the adventure mode, but the effectiveness of this basic air attack makes many of your other attacks null and void.
You'll travel to a series of arena-shaped environments and do battle with the minions of evil boy-genius Jack Spicer, of which there are three different types for you to fight over the course of the game. Before you go into a new level, you can equip your character with up to three different forms of Shen Gong Wu, which is basically a fancy, trademarkable name for "special move." The Shen Gong Wu, which you have to charge up by collecting colored spheres that fall out of your enemies, can have varying effects. The most common effect is to stun and immobilize enemies within a small radius, making it easier to beat the snot out of them. As with the lock-on system, though, your comrades can get caught up in the effects of the Shen Gong Wu, and the stun effects can be surprisingly long-lasting. Or maybe it just seems that way when you find yourself stuck in a giant block of ice, thanks to one of your buddies, unable to do anything for a good five or 10 seconds.